Write Right, Damn It!

Proper Use of You'reUh oh…the old fart is in a bad mood.

Deep breath…no not really. I just came across one of my pet peeves…the improper use of the words – Your and You’re. They are not interchangeable people!

Now I don’t pretend to be an expert in grammar and punctuation. I have my struggles, along with my never-ending battle with sentence-ending prepositions, if you can understand where I’m at…I mean the point at which I am…Bullshit…I mean where I’m at.

Still, there are certain fundamental grammatical forms that, when used improperly, are just plain incorrect because they MEAN SOMETHING DIFFERENT than what is intended. This is not the same as improper conjugation of a verb or using a comma instead of a semicolon, or the aforementioned preposition-ending sentence. I can see those errors and still understand the meaning of the passage I am reading. In truth, I also comprehend what is meant when someone misuses Your and You’re, but I always wonder if the writer does.

So, before I go any further (not farther, by the way) let’s get this straight.

Your: An adjective that describes the possession of something tangible or intangible. Ex. Your book, Your idea.

– You’re: A contraction of the pronoun You and the verb Are, (1st person plural of the verb infinitive ‘to be’ which is used to link the subject (read pronoun You) to some information about the subject (read pronoun You). Ex. You’re never going to be published if you don’t (another contraction) learn the difference between Your and You’re!

 Get it?

Okay, so what’s the point old man, you ask. Just this, serious writing requires the same attention to detail that a carpenter puts into building a cabinet, or an engineer designing an airplane.

Words have meanings. When I read a sentence that misuses simple vocabulary, I wonder how much time and thought went into the writing of the piece.

I’m not referring to dialogue…although the You’re contraction should be correctly used there as well. We all know that dialogue must be real to be meaningful. That means that it frequently is written the way people actually speak. My books are full of southernisms and dialect that is intended to bring color and realism to the action.

But if I want to say “You are the very distasteful offspring of a female dog” as spoken by a character in a story, I might say:

“You’re one mean son of a bitch” (I might even throw ‘asshole’ in for emphasis.)

I would not say:

Your one mean son of a bitch.”

Get my point?

Okay. That’s enough ranting by an old curmudgeon.

This to my writer friends, work,  hone your skills, learn your trade the way a carpenter or engineer does. Learn how to use words; don’t be used by them.

I mentioned in my last post that truly becoming a writer requires work, but the work is a thrill ride that I would not trade for anything else. When you know that the words you have written have found a way into the hearts of readers, that in some way they have been absorbed into their life experience, you will embrace the work of writing as well as the passion.

Easy Reading Hard Writing

Want to Be A Writer? Cut the Crap!

Steinbeck - Writers Clowns

Welcome to the world of Clowns and Trained Seals…or somewhere in between.

A little over two and a half years ago, I published my first novel, Eyes of the Predator, on Amazon. I make no claims to be an expert in writing, publishing or making a ton of money as an author (I wish), but I have had a modicum of success and a few observations that might be of help if you are a new Independent Author. Or you might, just decide the old man is full of…well, you know. Only way to know is to read on, or not…your choice. I did learn that lesson early on in my writing career.

First, learn to write. Seems to be a no-brainer, right? Not so much.

If you haven’t already discovered it for yourself, there is a lot of junk out on the various ebook publishers’ sites. When I first started publishing my novels, I read that one way to become known is to do book reviews for other Independent Authors. I thought, great idea, and started building relationships on Social Media and soon had a few requests to review books for authors. I soon stopped that practice. Why? Because most of what I was reading was silly drivel, poorly written and poorly edited. I could not in good conscience give a positive review, and my personal feeling is that if I can’t say something positive about an author, struggling as I am in my own writing experience, I prefer to say nothing at all.

So, learn to write. How do you do that? Pretty simple really…write.

Oh, you can spend months researching, studying, reading, listening to advice from “experts”, but in the end you must write. I would also add, that you must read. Reading increases your feel for language, the conveying of emotion, sensory perception, drama and tension through words.

When, I go back and reread one of my novels, I invariably find passages that I wish I had written differently. Maybe one day I will return to the manuscripts and rework them, but for now, I push on, and I…yes, that’s correct…I write.

Second, cut the crap. Why, Glenn, whatever do you mean? Writing is my passion…my calling…he/she said, as he/she puts a wrist to their forehead and gazes dreamily into space overwhelmed by the majesty of the artistic calling of authorship…Bullshit.

Once you have decided to string words and sentences together in such a way that others will want read them, it is time to cut the drama…and the crap. Trust me, readers don’t give a flying &8$# about your calling. They want a good story, a riveting plot, characters they can relate to…they want to be entertained, or educated, or elevated in some way. They want to laugh, cry, feel fear, and hope, happiness and pain…they want a good book!

I am constantly annoyed by the drama I see in various writer’s groups, seminars, circles etc. I freely admit that I am not a young man and I tend to be easily annoyed by many things and people anyway, but I have a special distaste for the need of some to create drama in their lives. I do not speak of the drama in a good plot. I am talking about the personal, self-inflicted, breast-beating, look at me world sort of drama, or as I have termed it…crap.

For those authors who feel they must opine about their calling as a writer, I say…shut the hell up! Want to know what may be preventing you from fulfilling your “calling”, your “passion”? Forgive me for being direct (actually I don’t care if you forgive me or not), but the self-indulgent, narcissistic need to explain your calling and passion is sure to inhibit your focus on what you claim to be…a writer…. Additionally, it will annoy others (read Glenn). Seriously, cut the personal drama and write. You will be surprised at how much better you become at your “calling”.

 Third, be careful from whom you accept advice (including from me). Find your own way. Discover your own writing voice, style and way of sharing your stories with the world.

That is not to say that you can’t mimic styles. We all do, whether we admit it or not. Somewhere along the way, however, your style of writing becomes yours…personal and recognizable as belonging to you.

Fourth, writing is your job…your business. If you say to yourself, “I write for the joy of writing. I don’t care if anyone reads my words or not.” I say to you…Bullshit. (I use that word a lot I guess…call it my writing voice. I found it years ago,)

If you feel that way, you are a hobbyist. You are not a writer. Sorry if that sounds harsh. There is a place in the world for hobbyists, but not in the world of writers.

My advice, don’t take yourself as a writer too seriously (see Steinbeck’s quote above), but take the business of writing, damned seriously. Those of you who are engaged in the struggle to become published authors know that writing words means that you want someone, somewhere to read them. That’s the point of it all! There is no shame in being honest and admitting it. Deny it and you are a damned liar, or supremely confused about what being a writer entails.

How do you treat writing as a business? Have a work ethic. Go to work, so to speak, daily and write. Sit down and do it…stop talking about it. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Imagine that.

Fifth, promote your writing…your business. In fact, promote, promote, promote. No way around it, unless you have one of the premier literary agents and a sweet contract with one of the big publishing houses (In which case, you will likely not be reading this post).

Learn marketing and promotion so that others (call them readers…or even customers) know you are a writer and want to read what you have written. Be shameless about it. Are you proud of your work? Then promote it. If you don’t, no one else will.

Marketing and Promotion is a big topic. I am currently gathering some data that may be of interest to you about independent marketing. I will share it in an upcoming post…maybe. Until then, do what I did. Figure it out and keep promoting.

Oh, by the way, you must have a backlist…more books…lots more books. If you write one book, promote the hell out of it and have some success, readers will want to read more from you. If there is nothing to read, they (your readers…customers) will soon go somewhere else. I learned this the hard way. I’m slow, but eventually I figure things out. So as I have said above, write and keep writing!

 If you are a writer, and I have offended you…well, it wouldn’t be the first time. If you are a “writer by calling” (sigh of passionate joy at the thought of your literary calling)…I don’t care.

But, if you are serious about writing…if you want to write…take the mystery out of it and…Write!

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